After a heart-breaking semi-final that saw Gianluca Scamacca’s last-minute equaliser disallowed with a fairly controversial VAR decision, and a third-place playoff that left much to be desired, Italy bow out of the U20 World Cup. Besides the bitter feeling of regret for having squandered the opportunity of a lifetime that was fully within reach, Italy come away from Poland with a lot to feel good about.
Last summer, Nicolo Zaniolo, Sandro Tonali, and Moise Kean used the U19 Euros to become mainstream figures in Italian football. This tournament, Alessandro Plizzari and Andrea Pinamonti were the ones to cement themselves as two of the brightest Italian prospects.
Pinamonti was Italy’s captain and top scorer, with four goals in six matches played. Owned by Inter, he spent last season on loan at Frosinone, where he played 27 matches and had five goals and three assists to his name. Inter appear willing to sacrifice him to go for more internationally-affirmed frontmen as rumours of Edin Dzeko and Romelu Lukaku have been relentless.
Sassuolo immediately spring to mind as a possible destination for the forward, as well as Genoa who never really replaced Krzysztof Piatek when he left in January. Parma could be another option for the striker, as Roberto Inglese appears not to be staying with the Crociati.
Pinamonti was supposed to also be a part of the U21 squad in the Euros, but was forced to abandon the training camp due to a slight knee injury.
Plizzari, on the other hand, plays his club football at AC Milan, where last season he split his time between the first team and the Primavera squad. He’s clearly ready to play regularly in Serie A, so Milan will have to make a decision between him and Gianluigi Donnarumma very soon. Born in 2000 and 1999 respectively, they’re arguably the two most promising Italian goalkeepers, and they naturally can’t coexist at Milan long term.
For the time being, expect Plizzari to go out on loan in search for some much-needed Serie A experience. He may find a team like SPAL to be the right fit, as the Ferrara-club are in need of a keeper, with Emiliano Viviano seemingly on the move.
Luca Pellegrini, arguably the most talented player in Italy’s squad, played as a mezz’ala in the tournament rather than his usual left-back position. The Roma loanee certainly showed his class, but at times he let his hot-headedness get the better of him, which would inevitably affect his decision-making.
Enrico Del Prato was another player who impressed, both as a ball-playing centre-back and as a deep-lying midfielder. Expect the Atalanta Primavera captain to be the next player that Gian Piero Gasperini throws into the mix for la Dea, as he has all the technical and decisional qualities to make it at a high level.
Alessandro Tripaldelli and Salvatore Esposito will be hoping to head back to their parent clubs, respectively Sassuolo and SPAL, to try to establish themselves for clubs in the Italian top flight. They unquestionably have what it takes to succeed, as Tripaldelli is an athletic fullback with brilliant crossing ability, and Esposito is a supremely technical regista that controls the tempo of the game.
Two players whose stock will have drastically risen after this World Cup are centre back Matteo Gabbia and box-to-box midfielder Davide Frattesi. The defender spent last season on loan at Lucchese, but is owned by AC Milan. The Rossoneri are rumoured to be interested in bringing him into the first team for next season, which would be the just reward for his consistent top-level performances.
Frattesi, meanwhile, appeared 32 times for Ascoli in Serie B last season, but Sassuolo own his rights after signing the Roma youth product from the Giallorossi in 2017. However, Roma have a repurchasing right that will allow the Capitoline club to buy the player back for a fixed price should they choose to do so.